Make / Model Search

Future models - Mini

New Mini family aims for maximum effect

More offerings: The Mini will grow to include a bigger Traveller next year.

BMW is keen to capitalise on the Mini brand’s global reach with a diverse range

16 Oct 2006

BMW will grow the Mini family, as sales of the brand launched globally in 2001 exceed the million-unit mark next year.

Literally the biggest Mini debutante slated for 2007 will be the release of the R55 Traveller, which may yet be called Clubman when it is revealed.

Derived from the Detroit motor show concept car shown in January (and imaginatively named Concept Detroit), the Traveller/Clubman will re-introduce the idea of the multi-door Mini.

To this end, it will sit on a longer wheelbase, and feature distinctive bodywork forward of the windscreen.

Lifestyle-enhancing versatility, rather than extra seating (the Mini is a four seater) is the name of the Traveller’s/Clubman’s game.

The chief designer of the latest Mini, Gert Hildebrand, would not be drawn to comment on the still-secret Traveller/Clubman.

However he did reveal to GoAuto that, on the subject of modern car design in general, he has been inspired by the work that Mazda has managed on the RX-8.

The Traveller/Clubman will feature at least one rear-hinged rear door in the style of the ‘Freestyle’ units found on the Japanese rotary-engined sports car.

But it is unclear whether both sides of the car will have this expensive and complicated door mechanism.

One overseas report states that only left-hand drive markets will be able to offer the Traveller/Clubman, as the fuel filler cap resides where the door would otherwise go in right-hand drive versions, and that re-routing the pipe would be cost-prohibitive.

If this is true, then it would then automatically cross Australia, as well as the UK, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa, off the Traveller/Clubman destination list.

Two barn-style back doors – in place of a regular wagon’s tailgate – will be another Traveller/Clubman feature, in keeping with the Concept Detroit show car.

 center imageLeft: Mini Traveller concept.

Whether a ‘Woody’ wood-panelled version is also forthcoming remains to be seen, although its appeal to the American market – where sales of the current Mini are about 150 per cent above initial forecasts – seems a no-brainer.

It is highly unlikely that the Woody name be employed, particularly in conjunction with Traveller.

On the diesel front, BMW is expected to announce in the coming weeks that it will buy variations of the 1.6-litre HDi four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit from PSA Peugeot Citroen.

The diesel, badged as the Mini D in Europe, may be offered in two states of tune.

The base R56 Mini One D will produce around 70kW of power and 215Nm of torque.

A high-performance version for a new diesel Cooper derivative is also expected, delivering in the region of 85kW and 250Nm.

There is also the possibility of a start/stop function in heavy traffic to save on fuel and keep emissions in check.

At the R56 Mini’s launch in Spain earlier this month, BMW hinted that the next Mini D will have performance and refinement that is "on par" with today’s 3 Series diesel.

In keeping with the petrol-powered versions of the R56, the Mini D’s manual gearbox is expected to be a six-speeder.

Whether the Mini D will also be offered with Peugeot’s six-speed automated sequential manual gearbox remains to be seen.

Today’s current R50 Mini One D uses a 1.4-litre Di-D four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit purchased from Toyota, and developed primarily for use in the European-specification Yaris light car. It delivers 65kW and 190Nm.

The PSA HDi engine is a logical choice as it is a distant relative to the 1.6-litre petrol engine co-op family that the French and BMW use in the 207 and Mini respectively.

Both powerplants share the same engine block structure, according to Peugeot.

Meanwhile the new (R57) Mini Cabrio will be launched towards the end of 2008, as the current (R52) model is barely two-years old.

A Mini insider has also revealed that, for performance versions that might exceed about 300Nm, BMW will most probably resort to using four-wheel drive.

The reason why is simple. Since handling balance and finesse are a Mini cornerstone, BMW will not allow this to be compromised by having too much torque going through the front wheels.

It also sees the possibility of a 4WD version of the Traveller breaking into markets with alpine ski areas, in much the same way as Subaru has managed with its all-wheel drive model Impreza and Liberty/Legacy models.

Further down the track, BMW is expected to implement electronic chassis management systems into the next-generation Minis.

Using highly sophisticated computer hardware in conjunction with driver aids like traction and stability controls, the idea is that the car will be able to react to adverse driving and/or road conditions more quickly than a human can, all in the name of the optimum cornering line.

Mr Hildebrand confessed that his team was doodling new car designs all the time, and hinted that they may have even tackled 21st Century versions of long-gone Mini-based derivatives.

Although strenuously denying that a larger sedan variant may be spun off the Mini platform in much the same way as the ADO16 Austin/Morris 1100 and 1300 were with the original Mini back in the 1960s, he admitted the idea had some appeal.

However, such a car is unlikely to be entertained by BMW’s product-planning overlords, even if the BMC 1100 went on to become Britain’s best-selling car of the 1960s.

Mini timeline:
R56 Mini April/May 2007
R56 Mini Diesel Late 2007
R55 Traveller/Clubman Late 2007/Early 2008
R57 Mini Cabriolet 2nd half 2008
R58 Mini 4WD 2008

The Road to Recovery podcast series

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

Mini models

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here